Wrongfully Convicted Man Testifies For Restitution
"Were you at the bank of Ohio, the Ohio National Bank, on Tuesday, December 21, 1976? No I wasn't. Did you participate in any robbery on Tuesday, December 21, 1976? No I didn't," Howard said.
Timothy Howard testified the played no part in the bank robbery or the murder of guard Berne Davis. Howard and his alleged accomplice Gary Lamar James were sent to prison for the shooting death during the robbery on East Main Street. But the convictions were overturned in 2003. Now the men are seeking restitution for the 26 years they spent in prison. But despite being freed, Common Pleas Court Judge David Cain said because their claim is a civil case, they'll have to prove their innocence.
Among those testifying Wednesday was Howard's sister, Beverly Howard Chatters. Chatters said she learned her brother was a suspect in the bank robbery on the news.
"When you saw it on the news what did you think? I new it wasn't true. Why? 'Cause he was home with me all day," Chatters said.
Chatters testified it would've been impossible for Howard to have left that day without her knowledge because she had a view of both the front and back doors of the house.
An assistant Franklin County prosecutor Mary Jane Martin cross-examined Chatters. Martin attempted to show Chatters was pulling Wednesday's testimony from the murder trial transcripts and not from memory.
"Did you have an opportunity to review your transcripts prior to testifying today? Yes. Yesterday. Is your testimony today based on recollection, what the events were that you know now? Or was it based on your transcripts? It was based on what I knew then and my transcripts," Chatters said. Howard was asked similar questions about what he did on December 21, 1976. He testified he ate some time after noon on the day of the robbery. But Martin tried to show that was not consistent with his previous testimony in 1977.
"Alright when you were asked the question did you eat at any time that morning I said no. You didn't eat. You also indicated you ate between 20 till three, almost three o'clock. Is that correct? If that's what it says, then yes. Alright," Howard said.
One of Howard's attorneys, Rick Ketchem, said he felt that Wednesday's proceedings went as planned. Howard said despite some memory lapses he felt good about his testimony.
"You know, a lot of things happen. I can't recall everything that happened. It's been almost 30 years ago, and I just can't recall everything. But I know that I stayed at home. And you really, when you stay at home you really don't you can't determine exactly everything that you do. So I just told the truth and hope that the jury will know that that's what I didl," Howard said.
If the jury awards Howard the settlement it could potentially be millions of dollars and the largest in state history.